15 Must Know Internet Safety Tips For Students
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Internet Safety Tips for Students
The rise of cyber crime means internet safety tips for students are more important than ever. In case you didn’t know, there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds. That’s less time than it takes to post a selfie. As you’re probably spending even more time online, you should know how to watch your device’s back. Here are a few suggestions on how to stay safe while you surf. For even more info, check out our 12 Must Know Facts About Cyber Security.
15 Must Know Internet Safety Tips for Students
These are the most popular ways students can stay safe on the internet.
#1. Be careful what you share
Think of the internet as a room full of (millions of) complete strangers. They could be future friends, employers or that person who steals your phone out of your jeans. Remember, there is no delete button on the internet. So, once you share your address and personal status, it is there for anyone to see. The same goes for an embarrassing selfie, swear word or rude comment. As a general rule, you don’t want to put things ‘out there’ that you wouldn’t want your mom or future boss to see.
#2. Check your privacy settings
Privacy settings function like doors. You close a door to keep people out, or open it to allow people in. If you don’t ‘close the door’, marketers and hackers can find out a lot about you. Things like your browsing habits to social media usage. Each platform is distinct, but you can often find these settings under your profile icon. When you check, make sure to ‘enable’ these safeguards. Boston University also suggests you disable geo tagging. Geo tagging basically lets anyone know where you are (or aren’t) at any given time.
#3. Browse with caution
Browsing is like walking around. Some paths are safe, and others are not. Cyber criminals often hide behind explicit or “juicy” content. You think it’s ok to click even though you don’t know it leads to a trusted site. A careless click could expose your personal data or infect your device with malware. So, resist the urge to follow unknown links or respond to senders you don’t know.
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#4. Use secure networks
It’s tempting to use public WiFi because it is free, but it isn’t always secure. Secured networks tend to ask for something in return. You might have to agree to legal terms, register an account or type in a password. Using unsecured ones expose you to hackers. These are real people who watch traffic to intercept your personal data. If they succeed, they can steal passwords, bank card pin number and credit card details.
#5. Think about a VPN
If you use a laptop and rely on public WiFi, think about a VPN. A VPN is a virtual private network. It can protect your identity, info and internet protocol (IP) address. VPNs connect your device and an internet server where no one can read your data. It does this by scrambling the data you send out so that you have more privacy.
#6. Go slow with downloads
Gamers, this one is for you. It is the mission of cyber criminals to trick you into downloading malware. Malware are programs or apps that carry some kind of virus that steals your info. A solid rule of thumb is to avoid downloading suspicious software or apps. Especially if it isn’t from a trusted site, one you know. If you have to use a public computer, delete any files you downloaded or saved too.
#7. Make strong passwords
We tend to want to use passwords that are easy to remember. Sadly, weak passwords are also easy for hackers to guess. Strong passwords, by comparison, act like a lock on a door. Sometimes, your device will suggest a strong password. It is likely one that uses a complex chain of numbers, letters and special characters. You can use this one or follow that lead, then store your passwords in a password manager software if it helps. That said, never store your passwords on the websites you visit on public computers. And always log out before you leave these sites.
#8. Look for https: when you shop online
Any time you shop online and have to use your credit card you want to check if the site is secure. To know if a site is secure, you can look for one of two things. The first shows up in the site URL address as ‘https:’ not ‘http:’ (the ‘s’ is for secure). And the second is a padlock icon. You can also search for reviews to make sure the site is reputable.
#9. Think twice about accepting invites
In 2019, Facebook pulled down more than 3 billion fake accounts. Fake profiles help bad actors spread untruths as well as access your information. To avoid this pitfall, be cautious about accepting random invites. You can be sensible about your online social life just as you are offline.
#10. Turn auto update on
The people who code viruses and malware know how to get it out there. So, all your connected devices should have updated antivirus, operating system and apps. These add a layer of security. Especially since newer versions tend detect and remove newer kinds of malware, viruses and threats.
#11. Check all your statements
In 2018, over 2.5 billion user accounts were hacked. It’s serious since user accounts can contain your name, bank or credit card number, social insurance number, phone number. To stay on top of this, check all your statements to see if all charges are legit. Suspicious activity may show up as a very small charge at first. But if it goes undetected, can turn into bigger ticket issues.
#12. Keep a backup
As a student, one of your worst nightmares is to work on a project and lose everything right before it’s due. Instead of this scenario, store your work on the cloud or on an external hard drive. A cloud system is a virtual framework that stores data. Most have firewalls, anti virus software, monitoring and host intrusion protection.
#13. Protect against ransomware
Ransomware is a form of malicious software. What it does is lock and encrypt a victim’s computer or device data. Then, demand a ransom to restore access. The tips we mentioned above can prevent against ransomware from holding your data hostage. You also want to be wary of any email attachment that advises you to enable macros to view its content. Once enabled, macro malware can infect many files. As a solid prevention tactic, hit ‘delete’ instead.
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#14. Be a guest user
Data breaches hit businesses and retailers alike. According to Shape Security, retailers reported (in 2018) that 80 to 90% of their login activity was malicious. To stay safe when you shop, remain a guest user. This way, you don’t have to store personal data in the first place.
#15. Protect your devices too
One of the simplest internet security tips for students is to protect your devices. That includes your smart phone, tablet or laptop. Yes, a cable lock adds a layer of protection. But it does not prevent someone from walking away with your hardware. Leaving any of these unattended in public or in an unlocked dorm room is a tried and true ‘no no’. And if you have to leave something behind, put it out of sight.